If you're looking for an effective, fun workout, water aerobics may be just the ticket.
Water aerobics is a low- to no-impact form of activity. It will raise your heart rate and cause you to break a sweat. It's both an aerobic and muscle-building workout. It can vary in intensity from moderate to vigorous. That depends on your fitness level.
Water aerobics is easy on the joints. It may even improve mood and mental health. It's also a way to get in some of the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.
One note of caution: Be sure to keep tabs on how you feel during a water workout. Your heart rate might drop up to 17 beats per minutes in the water versus land-based exercise. So it may feel like you're not working hard enough when your intensity level is actually quite high.
And the fun part? People enjoy exercising in the water more than they do on land, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What to expect
One way to learn the basics is through local community center or fitness club classes. Those are often set to music. Find a teacher who is certified in aquatic exercise.
The class should include a warm-up followed by cardiovascular and muscle conditioning. For strength training, push or pull the water away from you. Or use devices like hand-held paddles. Class should end with a cool-down that includes flexibility training.
Some people like to wear pool shoes with grip soles. Don't hesitate to ask your teacher if you have other safety concerns. If you're in an outdoor pool, you may want to wear hats, visors, sunglasses, waterproof sunscreen or other clothing.
Classes are a social form of fitness. For those who prefer to go solo and want to take it up a notch, more advanced activities include cycling and jogging. Those work large muscle groups and improve balance. You can do those activities with or without water dumbbells.
Who can do it?
Almost anyone. No swimming skills are required.
Water exercises can be a good activity for most people. But if you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you and any special precautions you should take.
However, for those with physical disabilities or trouble moving around on land, aqua aerobics may offer an excellent exercise alternative to walking. Water aerobics may be especially beneficial for senior citizens, pregnant women, or people with arthritis or low back pain. It's also ideal for anyone new to exercise.
Buoyancy gives you support that reduces the stress of carrying your weight. In the water, you're less likely to be hurt or to become sore later. Water workouts can also allow you to exercise longer than on land without more effort or added joint and muscle pain.
Done regularly, water aerobics offers benefits such as: cardiovascular fitness, strength and endurance, flexibility and reduction of body fat.
Good things may await those who take the plunge.
Created on 12/29/1999
Updated on 08/18/2013
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health benefits of water-based exercise.
- United States Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans.
- American Council on Exercise. Fit facts: Make a splash with water fitness.